10 Minute School is one of the leading e-learning or educational technology (edtech) platforms in Bangladesh. Since its inception the organization has been offering free education through online live classes and video lectures. Apart from just offering academic lectures, the platform is offering courses on university test preparation, language, skill development, and job preparation. At present, 10 Minute School has more than 15 million subscribers, including social media platforms and apps. In addition, they have about 20,000 video tutorials across all channels, and about 50,000 quizzes, along with over 1,100 notes and over 1,300 blogs on their website. Currently, the company has about 160 employees and they are moving ahead with the plan to lead the edtech market in Bangladesh with various more services in the future.
History of 10 Minute School
Ayman Sadiq’s name has become synonymous with 10 Minute School. Born in Comilla on 2 September 1992, Ayman studied at Adamjee Cantonment School & College in Dhaka. He started taking classes at Mentors’ (an academic coaching center in Dhaka) while studying at IBA in 2012 where his teaching style was well-liked by the students, which later made him more excited and interested to teach.
While teaching at Mentors’, Ayman noticed that about 1 to 1.2 million students appear for the HSC exams every year, but the number of seats available in public universities is between just 40,000 to 50,000. Besides, every coaching institute, from the ones for admission tests preparation to IELTS preparation, is mostly located in Dhaka. Hence, many meritorious students from comparatively remote areas are not able to receive good tuition or coaching, as many lack the money to come to Dhaka and cannot compete for government university seats due to the lack of adequate facilities. To solve this problem, Ayman thought of creating an education platform where anyone and everyone from any part of the country can get the same level of education for free.
While studying at IBA, Ayman Sadiq found a channel on YouTube to find solutions to various problems he faced in accounting subjects where he got the initial idea for 10 Minute School. From then on, he started thinking about the idea of providing lessons to students through the internet. Ayman noticed that all the subjects that a student has to study for the IBA admission test, are very useful in other exams also, starting from BCS to SAT, GRE, GMAT, Bank, and even government and private job exams. He made a mockup keeping these elements in mind, and that is where the journey of 10 Minutes School basically started. His idea was well appreciated by his friends when he shared this mockup which gave him the boost in confidence to create a website for 10 Minute School. Ayman made the initial investment in building this startup platform himself, using the money he earned from teaching classes in coaching centers & private tuitions.
Ayman initially faced numerous problems while trying to make the website, but he did not give up. Eventually, he started building the website with his own resources along with Abyad Raied, a younger acquaintance from BUET. He then assigned a team of 9 students from the new batch at IBA to create a total of 9 quizzes in English, Mathematics, and Analytics with 3 sets for each.
The 10 Minute School website was supposed to be launched the next year, on 10 May 2015, but due to technical difficulties, the entire content was erased on the same day. As a result, the launch deadline was postponed by a week to the 17th of May. Meanwhile, just 25 minutes after the launch, a technical issue appeared on the website once again and the entire team had to work to recover the website without delaying the deadline any further. The 10 Minute School YouTube channel was launched on 12 August 2015, with their first video on “One Formula To Rule Them All!”
Rise of the largest Online Classroom of Bangladesh
Although their journey started in 2014, the rise of 10 Minute School began in 2016, when they collaborated with the ICT Division to teach in different schools across the country through their classes and videos. The company was still moving ahead by bootstrapping and they did not take any external funding. They also did not have a fixed revenue stream as they followed the premium model from the beginning. Since 2016, Robi Axiata Limited, the second-largest mobile operator in the country, has been the title sponsor of 10 Minute School.
The edtech platform has since found financial stability and the worry regarding the revenue stream has subsided. Their activities have become more robust, and the platform has increased its number of live classes. They are focusing more on content growth and recruiting new teachers for the platform from across the country. Besides, 10 Minute School started creating videos with different experts of the country on various other subjects besides school and college curricula.
In 2017, 10 Minute School established its first office in a studio room at Janata Tower in Karwan Bazar. In the same year, 10 Minute School became the first institution in the country to win the Asia-Pacific ICT award in the e-learning category on behalf of the Asia Pacific ICT Alliance. Ayman Sadiq, founder and CEO of 10 Minute School, received the Queen’s Young Leaders Award from Queen Elizabeth II in 2017 for his work on providing access to quality education for all students in Bangladesh.
In 2015-16, broadband services in the country spread to smaller towns. Furthermore, 4G mobile network service was launched in Bangladesh in 2018 and as a result, the number of mobile internet users increased rapidly. Online video consumption rose and people became more interested in consuming educational content. However, the amount of quality content in Bangladesh was very low and 10 Minute School took advantage of that opportunity. The quality of the platform’s content made it easy for students and those interested in skill development to access it through their YouTube channel and Facebook page. Their groups on Facebook, especially the groups created on thematic topics, were very helpful for the students and helped a lot in building a better community. Additionally, in 2018, students were taught with the help of 10 Minute School contents in 2,900 schools with digital lab facilities provided by Bangladesh ICT Division. That same year, the company launched the 10 Minute School app in the Play Store. In 2019, they started operating another office in Mirpur.
The global online learning sector received a positive boost during the COVID 19 pandemic. However, it was not easy at all for 10 Minute School during the starting phase of the pandemic and 10 Minute School has shown a lot of intelligence to overcome such an uncertain situation. As Ayman Sadiq explained in an interview with us, their financial state was challenged as they depended on a business-to-business model. Payments were on hold and that led to the company considering bank loans. Being a digital edtech company, they did not have any substantial physical assets to show as collateral and that took bank loans out of the picture. They thought of new and different products in the market, even though 10 Minute School had never had to think of any other product before the pandemic.
There is a lot of demand for spoken English-related books in the market of Bangladesh. However, where other books on the market were not of such a high standard, 10MS launched their Spoken English course in PDF format and the book was priced at just 75 BDT.
Unexpectedly, about 16,000 copies of the book were sold in one day which was about 1.2 million BDT. After the success of the book “Spoken English”, 10 Minute School has launched an interactive PDF of Physics paper 1 & 2. Realizing the demand for PDF books in the market as a product, 10 Minute School also started focusing more on this sector. They also brought the first hardcover book to market in 2021 and within a few days, it became a best-seller on rokomari.com.
At present, 10 Minute School has a total of 6 offices in Dhaka. The success of 10 Minute School in bringing mainstream teachers as well as expert trainers from various sectors on one platform is unmatched by any other edtech platform in the industry. The start-up has 96 instructors, and 10 Minute School channels have a combined resource of about 20,000 video tutorials and about 50,000 quizzes.
The edtech platform is providing education facilities to more than 2.5 million students every day, through YouTube channels, Facebook groups, websites, and apps. In addition, the platform’s content library has more than 460 hours of paid courses, in which about 270,000 students have been enrolled so far. The content library of 10MS is the richest and the most diversified in the edtech industry of Bangladesh, which is a competitive advantage of 10MS as compared to other edtechs. It will be quite challenging for any local edtech to compete with such a strong head starter. So far, the 10 Minute School mobile app has been installed more than 1 million times from the PlayStore.
However, in the midst of all these successes, in running such a big platform, 10 Minute School has often faced a lot of controversies. However, each time they have been able to navigate such issues quite effectively.
10 Minute School Business Model
Most start-ups in Bangladesh run on a subscription-based business model from the get-go. On the other hand, 10MS has been following the ‘Grow Fast Then Monetize’ policy since the very beginning. Mentioning that the B2C model did not work out at the initial stage of the company
Ayman Sadiq said, “from 2014 to 2020 the entire revenue channel depended on the B2B model.” A model which relies heavily on sponsorship like many media companies. Unilever, IDLC, and BRAC have helped them continue their activities through sponsorship. 10 Minute School has also run its business with various videos, and corporate grooming courses for the employees of these organizations through their B2B app which is specifically catered to train new employees at companies like Unilever, IDLC, BRAC, BAT, and about 11 more companies. Currently, 10 Minute School has made required changes in its business model and is working to bring even more changes in the future.
A large section of the population of Bangladesh is still interested in reading books. 10 Minute School has also received a good response in terms of their book sales. As a result, Ayman Sadiq said that the start-up plans to work on a larger scale with printed publications in the future. They also have plans to create a separate platform for children and a school for language learning.
10 Minute School has plans to expand its services across the country as well as work towards the country’s business expansion, for which they require funding. Currently, Global edtech is constantly scouting to acquire various new startups. However, Ayman Sadiq said that 10 Minute School is not very interested in being acquired right now and the start-up is basically focusing more on fundraising at the moment.
In an interview with Business Inspection, Ayman Sadiq said that Byju’s and Unacademy are acquiring startups every other month but 10 Minute School is focusing more on the partnership model. With partnerships, 10 Minute School is currently able to use various resources by sharing content, etc. IPO is not what the company is looking into at the moment but there is a possibility for the company to go public in the future, said Ayman. In the interview, Ayman Sadiq advised future entrepreneurs to seek out help from suitable individuals, avoiding hesitation.
New players are constantly being added to the edtech industry in Bangladesh. Since monetization is possible in this sector from the beginning, new entrepreneurs are also more inclined towards edtech. Although the market has become much more competitive, Ayman is very optimistic about the present and future of the edtech industry in Bangladesh.